Fantastic Four #136-137
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #136, Fantastic Four #137
This guy, whose handle is the Wild One, is sort of stuck in the 1950s, and he reimagines the world as young people in James Dean style outfits on flying motorcycles (The J.D.'s) fighting Establishment old people who wear weird 3-D glasses (The "Patriots").. The men wear Bucky outfits and the women wear costumes with spirals on their breasts and crotch.
Prior to getting sucked into the Wild One's world, the FF, leaving Gideon's compound, basically say to poor Thomas, "Well, i guess you've got cancer and you're going to die. Later, son!" and then "Oh all right we'll see if we can't find a cure.". Next thing you know he's on the pogo plane.
Then the Shaper's reality hits them, and Johnny and Medusa get semi-brainwashed into going with the motorcycle kids, while Reed and the Thing go with the old folks. Since Medusa has been married to Black Bolt by the time i started reading comics, and she's an Inhuman, i always think of her as an older woman, possibly not even aging like humans do, but i guess she's really just a young girl. That makes Johnny's crush on her in earlier issues a little less creepy, i guess.
Mr. Fantastic gets an idea of what's going on when the Wild One treats a black man "as though the black were... an invisible man". "The black"? Maybe that was a normal way of talking in 1973, but it almost sounds like Mr. Fantastic isn't all that used to talking about black people himself (as Clyde reminds me in the comments, Black Panther has appeared more recently than i remembered, but this book generally does not have as diverse a cast as, say, Amazing Spider-Man).
Both groups are told by their respective bosses that they have to find Albert Einstein's bomb if they want to stay on the team.
But wait! It turns out that "Albert Einstein" is really Gideon's henchman. The Shaper was fulfilling his wish to not be stupid any more.
Then who is the Wild One, and what's all this J.D.s vs. Patriots stuff? Is this a clever twist or did i not read carefully enough? Ay-yi-yi.
Anyway, after a drive-in movie monster comes to life and the black Patriots revolt, the Shaper of Worlds realizes that the henchman wasn't a good source of imagination after all, so he abducts Thomas Gideon instead, and then the world becomes normal again. The Thing wonders if things were actually better in the 50s, without all the "Riots, pollution, and women's liberation." The Human Torch says he feels sick, but i'm not sure if it's due to the Thing's sexism.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: This issue starts with the FF still at Gideon's place and Reed still unconscious, but it has been some time since the end of last issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showDragon Man, Glorian, Gregory Gideon, Human Torch, Medusa, Mr. Fantastic, Shaper of Worlds, Thing
This story may have been inspired by the 1950s nostalgia going around at the time, such as the "Grease" broadway show and "American Graffiti". The title to #136 refers to the 1950s Bill Haley & The Comets song "Rock Around The Clock".
The "invisible man" description of the black guy is a nod to Ralph Ellison's novel "Invisible Man".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 14, 2011 11:39 PM
I don't remember seeing these 2 stories at all, though I had many other FF issues during this era closely surrounding them before and after. Other than the fine artwork, looks like I didn't miss much!
Posted by: Mike | July 12, 2014 3:35 PM
Update: Upon further review, after looking up these covers on google I can totally remember them from back in the day. I'd be thumbing through clear plastic covered comics in the open boxed FF section and constantly see these. I'd pass them up because of the covers. I wanted nothing to do with Sputnik Kong and the Leather Jacket Guy who (dis)graced these 2 covers. Funny but these 2 were always available in the old comic stores, while we'd be very lucky to find rare ones like FF #112 and Spider-man 121-122.
Posted by: Mike | July 12, 2014 4:05 PM
The Wild One and the head Patriot (whose name keeps changing during the story) are supposed to be a bickering hippie son and his Archie Bunker-ish father seen very briefly at the start of #136. The whole 50s reality is Slugger's dream world; the idea is that the father and son get caught up in it, turning it into a war over who gets control of Slugger and his "superweapon," Warhead.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 16, 2015 7:35 PM
"For what it's worth, this is the first black guy i remember seeing in a Fantastic Four comic since the Black Panther sent Mr. Fantastic a sent of vibranium knuckles to help fight Klaw via a remote controlled rocket back in Fantastic Four #56... eighty issues ago. Just sayin'!"
FNORD - Mr. Fantastic encountered the Black Panther in FF# 119. Although he was known as "the Black Leopard". However, I have a no-prize attempt. That horrible name-change was too painful for you to remember, so you blocked the memory of that issue.
Posted by: clyde | December 7, 2015 9:59 PM
I never realized that the Wild One and McHammer were intended to be the bickering father and son, but that actually makes a lot of sense. However, I also think McHammer is a clear reference to Joseph McCarthy; his head henchman is even named Kone, a nod to Roy Cohn, McCarthy's chief counsel and infamous attorney.
I didn't expect a lot from this story but ended up really enjoying it. Just as it proceeds directly from the end of the Gideon story, it also carries a seed of that story along by continuing to show the dangers of nuclear weapons. This story is filled with WoMDs -- the Warhead created by an Einstein lookalike, the FF themselves being used by either side in a war, and even the Shaper, who cannot create but only be used to fulfill the dreams of others (and who is eventually revealed to be an extension of yet another potential weapon -- the Cosmic Cube).
In the end, though, the Shaper takes his power and gives it to the future generation, in the form of Thomas, to decide how to use. Heady stuff, dad.
Posted by: TCP | May 19, 2016 10:14 PM
The FF (and the NYC police & other authorities) repeatedly failed to protect Thomas Gideon, who was the FF's biggest fan back in Fantastic Four #34, and risked everything for his heroes.
In #34, Thomas rebelled against his rich dad for the FF, risked his life for them, and fell into the time machine trap that was intended for them. He could easily have been killed for his efforts. He was just a kid. By all rights he should have never been returned to the custody of his megalomaniac father, but the FF let the Gideon family walk away together at the end, with Gregory vowing to turn himself into the police, which, as we've seen here, was a total lie.
Then, starting in #135, we finally get this follow-up. Unrehabilitated and left to his own devices (Why? Because he's rich?) by the authorities, Gregory takes his family on vacation, carelessly gets Thomas' mother killed, gives Thomas (and himself) a nice case of cancer, and finally, gets Thomas abducted by a giant floating alien cyborg Skrull.
No problem for the FF, who, on learning of Thomas abduction, rather than petition the Shaper for his return, simply ask the Shaper "what about us?" and are happy and uncaring enough, just to go on with their lives, riding off into the sunset, telling bad jokes to each other, and leaving Thomas to whatever fate might eventually await him at the Shaper's hands. Motherless. Forgotten. Abandoned. Failed.
Posted by: Holt | January 24, 2018 9:36 PM
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